Monthly archives of “October 2009


Chung King Express, Wong Kar Wai (1994)

This hasn’t aged well. Feels like a student film; the completely boring narrative exists solely as an excuse for the director to try out every possible cinematographical trick he can think of. And to play a whole lot of relentlessly banal slow jazz. But OK, if he needed to do this in order to learn how to make 2046 and In the Mood for Love, that’s fine by me.



American Gangster, Ridley Scott (2007). Better than everyone said it was. Narratively a mess but mythologically deeply astute.

The Interrogators, Chris Mackey and Greg Miller (2005). As with all the memoirs of interrogators I’ve read, this is useful both with regard to what it thinks it’s saying and what it’s saying without realizing it.

Need for the Bike
, Paul Fournel (2001). Oulipian on cycling. Charming/irritating in that utterly French way.

The Third Man
, Carol Reed (1949). Genius. A perfect pairing with Civilization and Its Discontents. I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to look at, and how perfect the music.

Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud (1929). CANDY. The intelligence is stupendous, the style is wholly beguiling.

The Man Outside
, Wolfgang Borchert (1949). Wanted to like this but it’s a bit too manic for my purposes. That’s saying something, considering how useful I find Buchner.

Travels with Herodotus
, Ryzard Kapuscinski (2007). Almost makes me cry. The final, supremely elegant work by one of my favorite writers ever, who died in 2007. A perfect conclusion to his oeuvre.

Monstering, Tara McKelvey (2007). McKelvey makes a bit too much effort to make a narrative of her journalism, and is a bit too proud of her scoops, which are not in fact that deep. Not without merit, but not necessary if you’ve read Mayer and Gourevitch.